• Allison Priestman

October 2020 Training Update: Contact and Creativity


It feels a useful moment after nearly six months of running webinars to have a reflection on and review of my online training work. On Friday, 2nd October I ran the first meeting of my Playing with Fire online course. The course has proved attractive and was fully booked with 12 participants. As is often the case with my work, I’ve attracted practitioners from a broad range of modalities and experience. Moving this training online has enabled a wide geographical distribution within the group. Most members are in the UK, -but we also have someone who is in Pakistan, someone in South Africa and someone in America! The training will run over the next eight months and we will meet fortnightly, every other Friday morning. Already the sense of excitement and possibility is tangible. When running the selection interviews with people, a common theme that came out was looking for community and meeting with like-minded people over a stretch of time. It will be interesting to see what is possible and what emerges through this format and the regular fortnightly pulse. The material I’m offering feels very alive and dynamic and I’m sure I’ll be wanting to offer it online again. As the Playing with Fire course begins the second series of ‘How to be a Bad Therapist’ webinar is drawing to a close. It’s been a delight to work with Nick Totton again! We have been training partners for about nine years, with a recent break of eighteen months. We have our last meeting of the series, soon. I’ve really enjoyed working with Nick and the webinar participants. Nick came up with the provocative title which has struck a surprising chord with a number of practitioners. From the advertising -”In these webinars we want to support robust, adventurous practice which trusts our own experience and instincts. Drawing from Embodied-Relational Therapy and Wild Therapy, we will use the concepts of embodied relating and wild mind to support non-defensive practice, based in an attitude of openness, generosity, negotiation, spontaneity and relational availability, and a recognition and acceptance of appropriate risk”. We have explored themes such as intimacy, power and ethics, wildness, and the therapeutic frame. I’ve greatly enjoyed collaborating with Nick, having group discussions, and creating a supportive space for people to explore working in non-defensive ways. Unfortunately, we haven’t any plans at this stage for another series. We will however be running occasional webinars together. On the occasional webinar front, I’ve also greatly enjoyed offering stand-alone webinars on a variety of themes. Bringing Embodiment Online, Working with Erotic charge, Working with Clients Outside etc. I plan to continue offering these over the next six months at least. I have found training online, a surprisingly rewarding experience. I keep the webinars short - no more than 2 ½ hours, with regular breaks, and ensure that the group size is not more than about 20 participants. I have found them enlivening, contactful, thought-provoking and nourishing. It’s a delight to meet so many interesting and intelligent practitioners in so short a time. It’s also been a privilege to learn from and get a sense of the collective demands and challenges of working at this time, particularly in respect to the COVID-19 restrictions. On a personal note it’s a relief to not have to travel to run trainings. After more than ten years of working as a trainer it’s great to have a break from working weekends! To garden, walk, swim and see friends. I’ve missed working face to face with my Embodied-Relational Therapy training partners Stephen Tame and Jayne Johnson. They have both continued to offer face-to-face trainings. They have done well to negotiate the logistical and practical challenges that that’s involved! Looking to the future- the big training event on my horizon is working towards the next Embodied -Relational Therapy training which will happen in Devon with Stephen Tame starting June 2021. We will be running an Experience of Embodied-Relational Therapy weekend workshop in Devon in February. I’m hoping that by the time the ERT training starts in June, many of the restrictions around COVID 19 will be lifted and meeting in groups in the flesh can again be celebrated and enjoyed, with more ease. The format is to run it as non-residential weekends, approximately once a month for the first year. Offering perhaps more continuity than the longer and more widely dispersed residentials that we’ve offered in the past for this training. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about the ERT training and check out the ERT website. Stephen and I are in the process of meeting with and selecting people to join this training. Running the ERT training has been a core part of my working life in the past, and I look forward to a return to diving into working with embodiment and relationship. I value offering training both online and face-to-face. Both have their value and richness. I think that my training muscles have been stretched and strengthened by the challenge of moving my work online. Especially my ability to present theoretical material in an accessible way; supporting the group to interact and engage with the topic. I look forward to seeing how my online work will feed into and nourish my face-to-face training. I hope you will join me whether that’s online or face-to-face in the future.



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Allison Priestman 2020

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